Brand Bidding on Google AdWords

Recent court rulings in favour of Google for Brand Bidding on their AdWords program has led many people to believe that it is, therefore, legal to try to compete in the search engines on other people's Trademarks.

However, this is far from the truth and you could get yourself into serious trouble by doing so. If you use any of your competitor's trademarks or brand names on your website, in your meta tags or in your AdWords (or other) campaigns, then you need to understand what these rulings really mean.

The specific point to be aware of is that the court cases found in favour of Google, they did NOT find in favour of the people advertising on Google.

Briefly, there have been many companies advertising on Google AdWords so that their ads show up when people search for their competitors. The court cases were to decide whether it was Google's responsibility to police these Trademark infringements. The courts found that it was not Google's responsibility. By advertising using your competitors trademarks, you are still infringing their rights. The difference now, is that Google can not be sued over the matter. Instead, the advertiser (ie. You) will be sued instead.

Marks and Spencer have found this out to their cost as they are now being sued by Interflora for advertising against their trademarks on Google. Without wanting to prejudge the outcome of this case, it seems unlikely that M&S will be able to put up much of a case.

There were several court cases around the world years ago regarding putting your competitors brand names and trademarks in your meta keywords so this is now a big no-no.

If you, or your AdWords management company, are advertising on AdWords using your competitor's trademarks, you should stop it immediately before you find yourself in a similar position to M&S.

For advice on Google AdWords or other legal issues regarding your website, please contact us.

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